I'm using the following code to get a list of all the pages that are children of my project page and display them in a Recent Projects section of my template's footer element.

I've noticed that the get_page_children() method returns everything about that page - post_author, post_date, post_content, post_title, etc. Is there a way to limit this so that it only returns the post_title? Otherwise it is creating unnecessary overhead in querying all these other properties that aren't being rendered in the footer.

Also, is there a way to limit the number of objects returned? I only want the most recent four ordered by date descending.

    <h3>Recent Projects</h3>
    <ul class="footer-list">
    // Set up the objects needed
    $my_wp_query = new WP_Query();
    $all_wp_pages = $my_wp_query->query(array('post_type' => 'page'));

    // Get the page as an Object
    $projects =  get_page_by_title('Projects');

    // Filter through all pages and find Portfolio's children
    $projects_children = get_page_children( $projects->ID, $all_wp_pages );

    // echo what we get back from WP to the browser
    foreach ($projects_children as $project):
            <a href="<?php echo get_permalink($project); ?>"><?php echo var_dump($project);//echo $project->post_title; ?></a>
    <?php endforeach; ?>

You can just return the IDs, then get each title by the respective ID. And to restrict the query to four posts only, you can use posts_per_page.
I modified and optimized your above code a bit, so here it is:

<h3>Recent Projects</h3>
<ul class="footer-list"><?php
    $projects_page = get_page_by_title('Projects');

    $args = array(
        'post_type' => 'page',
        'post_parent' => $projects_page->ID,
        'ignore_sticky_posts' => true,
        'posts_per_page' => 4,
        'fields' => 'ids',
    $projects = new WP_Query($args);

    foreach ($projects as $project) {
            <a href="<?php echo get_permalink($project); ?>"><?php echo get_the_title($project); ?></a>

There isn't much overhead, you're hitting the database anyway. Just use array_map.

function get_titles($n) {

$titles_only = array_map("get_titles", $projects_children );

As for limiting and ordering, check out the Pagination Parameters (posts_per_page) and Order & Orderby Parameters of WP_Query.

Note: code is untested.

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